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Local, Synodical, National, Global…We are the Church

A person posing for the cameraPeople of Hope:

Did you know that ELCA Lutherans live and minister alongside members of 80 companion churches around the world? All of these companion church bodies are Lutheran and scattered across Central, South, and North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Unlike missionary programs of the past, in the ELCA, our global mission programs commit to ministering in the following ways:

Mutually: All of us have gifts to support God’s mission. There is no mission to, only mission with and among.
Inclusively: We seek to build relationships across boundaries that exclude and divide.
Vulnerably: Just as Jesus became vulnerable to us, we open ourselves to others.
Empowering: We seek to identify and correct imbalances of power, which may mean recognizing and letting go of our own.
Sustainably: To ensure local ministries last for a long time, we seek to embed mission in ongoing relationships and communities.

ELCA missionaries are received by companion churches at the request of the companion churches to meet needs identified by the companion church, a way of doing ministry described as accompaniment. Our missionaries bring their talents and skills to their particular ministry sites around the world, but they also learn and grow and are challenged and enriched by what they experience. The Spirit is alive and working among all God’s people, so our missionaries are blessed to see how God is already working among others.

Of course, one of our beloved sisters in Christ, Julie Gerrish, has served in Young Adults in Global Mission, one of the global mission programs of the ELCA and is now doing her seminary internship in Malaysia in a congregation of a companion church body.

Esperanza is able to be part of ELCA global mission through financial and prayerful support of a particular missionary. In the 2023 congregation-approved mission plan, we allocated funds to support a missionary. By entering into a relationship with a particular missionary, we are then recipients of their regular newsletters and a stop on their home visits. The Grand Canyon Synod has relationships with two particular church bodies which we call companion synods, Lutheran church bodies in Senegal—in east Africa—and Mexico. In the coming months, more details will be shared about our connection with the global Lutheran church.

The Lutheran church is local: Esperanza. The Lutheran church is synodical: Grand Canyon Synod. The Lutheran church is national: the ELCA. The Lutheran church is global. Thanks be to God!

Pastor Sarah